Japan's been the bad guy in Cancun for the past week and a half, after the country took a firm stance against agreeing to a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol. Japan argues that it wants a new global deal, one that includes big emitters like the US and China, and will not consent to extending its commitment under the 13-year-old treaty, whose first round of commitments is set to expire in 2012. But on Thursday night, Russia formally joined Japan in that stance.
Here's an excerpt of the prepared remarks from Alexander Bedritsky, Russia's special envoy for climate, from the Thursday night plenary:
"Russia has repeatedly stated, including at the highest political level, that the adoption of commitments for the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, as it stands now, would be neither scientifically, economically nor politically effective … Russia will not participate in the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.
Well, you don’t get much more clear than that. Everyone here knew that Russia and Canada were not very enthusiastic about a second commitment period, but Russia made it's unwillingness quite apparent tonight.
Bedritsky did note, however, that it would be "judicious to continue to use Kyoto Protocol mechanisms, including in a new agreement." He also said that Russia supports listing new commitments in a successor global deal and intends to hold itself to the pledge it made in Copenhagen last year to cut emissions 15 to 25 percent below 1990 by 2020.
The fate of Kyoto remains a major rub here in Cancun, as leader head into the final day of negotiations on Friday. Developing countries have insisted that they need a second period for what is currently the only legally binding global agreement on climate, but it looks like extending it is a deal-breaker for at least a few countries as well.